‘The Bling Ring’ is best when it’s only shallow

Emma Watson plays one of a group of real-life teens who stole from celebrities in Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring." Credit: A24
Emma Watson plays one of a group of real-life teens who stole from celebrities in Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring.”
Credit: A24

‘The Bling Ring’
Director: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Emma Watson, Israel Broussard
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

Sofia Coppola is perhaps the only filmmaker who could make anything out of the true life titular gang in “The Bling Ring,” namely a coterie of teens who broke into celebrities’ homes, making off with millions worth in designer clothing and cash. What is there to say about? The story speaks for itself about materialism and the banality of (moderate) evil in the age of social media. Anything else would be too obvious, mere underlining. The best way to handle it, if one must at all, is to embody the subjects’ braindead thirst for fancy stuff. The characters in “The Bling Ring” don’t think, they just do. If Google allows them to find Paris Hilton’s house, and if she broadcasts on Twitter she’ll be DJing a club on such a night, then it follows they must break in and steal her fancy clothes — although perhaps not her dog.

For about an hour, Coppola’s sixth feature is hypnotic. That’s not because of the filmmaking, which is less ostentatiously minimalist than in “Somewhere. That film found her finally paying homage to Chantal Akerman, whose epic “Jeanne Dielman” includes such sequences as a four-minute shot of someone skinning potatoes. It’s because it has an overall flatness, in style and judgment. The camera stares dead-eyed at the questionable activities of the group, which includes nice guy/unreseolved metrosexual Nick (Israel Broussard), enabler Rachel (Katie Chang) and a Valley Girl (Emma Watson) home-schooled not by a Christian fundamentalist but by a devotee of The Secret (Leslie Mann).

That last joke is a bit too broad for such an intentionally one-note film. Indeed, there are times, when Coppola is having its dim characters strut about in stolen duds in slow-mo to gangsta rap, that the film feels more like Todd Solondz than the director of “The Virgin Suicides” and “Lost in Translation.” It’s not that Solondz is beneath her; he’s just a different, polarizing filmmaker, and it’s distressing to see her try her hand at sour jokiness. Once our anti-heroes are busted, the film suddenly does take a stance. Watson’s pampered girl goes faux-remorse, wearing sensible outfits as she tells fawning journos about how she wants to head a charity. Nick becomes the fall guy, the victim of mean girls who are better at working a girl-obsessed media. Watson’s patently empty line readings, read in an ‘80s accent, are hilarious, but they’re from a different, sillier film. Coppola is great at portraying the laziness of wealth; when it comes to analyzing it, or other things, she’s as shallow as the characters she often depicts.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

Philadelphia principal has President Obama's ear

The West Philadelphia head is gathering ideas to present to the White House.

Local

Neighbors testify at Overbrook roommate slaying trial

Neighbors and roommates were called to testify Wednesday in the trial of Renaldo Robichaw, 56, charged with murder for the death of roommate Albert Smith, 48.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

Movies

Latin culture highlighted at Filadelphia film fest

Get ready to have a “Bad Hair” day at the upcoming Filadelphia Latin American Film Festival. We mean that in the best possible way. The…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Eagles will spend Thanksgiving in Dallas, play four…

The Eagles have an impressive, challenging and exciting schedule in 2014.

NFL

NFL releases Eagles 2014 schedule

The Eagles have four primetime games, face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and host the Seahawks in a dynamic, challenging and impressive schedule.

NHL

All signs suggest Steve Mason will start in…

Flyers head coach Craig Berube elected to put Steve Mason in net for the final minutes of Game 3.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."